Choosing Schools: Reach, Match and Safe Schools

Updated   November 24, 2017 |
Choosing Schools: Reach, Match and Safe Schools
Always answer this question honestly: what is the school looking for? Is my child a match for their requirements? This article shows you how to get that important match right.

As you begin thinking about private schools, you will add schools from various sources to your initial list of potential schools. That’s fine. Accept all suggestions and advice in the early stages of your search for the right school or schools. Friends will suggest schools which their children attend. Family will mention schools that your uncle or aunt attended. And so on. Finally, you will explore on your own. Private School Review is a great place to start because the site is devoted to private K-12 schools. The following screenshot gives you an idea of number of schools within a fifty mile radius of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. (I selected that area because I am familiar with it as I have family there. Also itt is not a major urban area.)

Private schools within 50 miles of zip code 01028

After exploring schools and including all the other suggestions you will receive, you will most likely end up with a list of 5-10 schools. Now, this is where the private school search process becomes tricky. Why is that? Simply because you have to whittle that long list of potential schools down to a more manageable list of 2-3 schools.  Selecting a school is not like buying a watch on Amazon. It’s a lot like buying a house. And just as with buying a house, you have to really like the house.

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Updated   June 07, 2017 |
Private School Job Searching 101
Here is a guide for teachers and administrators seeking employment in private schools. Think of it as a roadmap for the job search process.

Here is a guide for teachers and administrators seeking employment in private schools. Think of it as a roadmap for the job search process. I wrote this for teachers, as well as admissions and business office professionals and those seeking positions as dean of students and head of school. I have drawn most of the advice from my own experience in the field. Some of it is plain, old-fashioned common sense.  I have also included some tips and strategies for dealing with today's job markets. You will find plenty of practical advice about applying, networking, using job boards and much more.  I know that your goal is to get that all important first interview. So, with that in mind, let's get started.

Apply correctly.

You must follow each individual school's specific application instructions to the letter.  If you don't follow their instructions, the staff member charged with screening applications will probably not file your application in the "To Be Interviewed" folder.  Your application will end up in a folder with all the other applications which don't appear to meet their requirements at first glance.  Back in the days before email and Monster.com, I had to open the mail from teachers looking for employment with the Anglican Education Association in The Bahamas. I could tell at a glance whether we would interview the applicant. Cover letters hand-written on a page torn from an exercise book never made the cut.

This video offers tips for completing emplyment applications.

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Updated   May 25, 2017 |
Admissions Matters: The Essay
The admissions essay is an important part of your child's admissions profile. Noodle Pros essay expert Kate Fisher offers some valuable tips about writing the admissions essay.

Editor's Note: I am most grateful to Kate Fisher, who is an expert in admissions essays with Noodle Pros, for explaining how to handle the inevitable essay portion of your child's private school admissions application. ~Rob

If your child is applying to a private middle school or high school, he or she will likely have to write an admissions essay. It is important to remember that this is not a college admissions essay, which means that the standards used to assess your child’s writing ability are lower. However, this also means that it’s much easier for admissions officers to quickly identify essays that a parent, teacher, or tutor has had too heavy a hand in. 

It is extremely difficult to disguise adult involvement in an essay that is supposed to be written by a child applying to middle school or high school. You may feel uncomfortable allowing your child to submit his or her essay without reading it over. If you choose to help him or her by proofreading or editing it, remember to make sure the language, syntax, and sentence structure remain age-appropriate. No private school admissions officer expects a rising sixth grader to write as well as an award-winning novelist, let alone a college-educated adult.

The best way to ensure the success of your child’s admissions essay is to show how to choose the right essay. Most private schools ask applicants to choose one prompt from a list of several. Helping your child brainstorm which topic to write about

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Updated   May 11, 2017 |
Doing Your Due Diligence
As you narrow the field in your private school search process, you will develop a short list of three to five schools which you will evaluate in detail. Visiting each school is an essential part of your due diligence.

Before you spend $5,000, $15,000, $25,000 or more annually for your child's education in a private school, do your own due diligence. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines due diligence as "research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction." https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/due%20diligence In a normal business transaction such as buying a house, you would probably concern yourself with the title search and a house inspection in the first instance. When evaluating private schools for your child, your due diligence will focus on the fit. You want to find the private school which offers the best fit for your needs and requirements. You want to identify a school at which your child will be happy. The due diligence steps which you take in a business transaction inspect and review tangibles. Due diligence for parents evaluating private schools includes tangibles such as the academics, sports, and extracurriculars as well as that all-important intangible which is how the school fits in with your requirements.

Avoid common mistakes.

When you visit schools, please don't make the following common mistakes

  • Being late
  • Being dressed inappropriately
  • Being unprepared
  • Being over-prepared
  • Being rude and disinterested

A little thought and preparation will help you make the best impression possible. 

Visit schools.

Visiting schools is an essential part of evaluating the schools on your short list. There are several ways schools will arrange those visits. 
This part of your due diligence can be great fun. You will set foot on the campus and explore the facilities of a school which you have

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Updated   May 11, 2017 |
How To Improve Your SSAT Quantitative Score
The experts at Noodle Pros offer on improving quantitative scores on the commonly used private school standardized admissions test, the SSAT.

I asked the experts at Noodle Pros for suggestions as to how to improve quantitative scores on the commonly used private school standardized admissions test, the SSAT. Their answers follow. ...Rob

Four Noodle Pros give advice on how to improve your SSAT quantitative score: 

1. Be thorough.

Write out your math as thoroughly and as clearly as you can. Even when you can do much of the calculation in your head, it helps a lot to have your step-by-step thinking on paper in front of you. Many times when you get lost or stuck, you can look at what you have written and find your way out of a jam. You can also find and fix the errors in your thinking or your calculation more quickly and more accurately when you can see the work in front of you. Don't do all your math in your head! - Brendan Mernin, 27 Years Tutoring

2. Be confident.

Students do their best when they feel confident. The challenge in maintaining good morale is that the difficulty of the exam can cause students anxiety. Remember that, according to the SSAT website, the SSAT writers design the questions so that only 50 to 60 percent of the test-takers get the question right. Help your child maintain a realistic view of what is expected, and take on preparation in reasonable “chunks.” Start by mastering the questions on content your child already knows, gradually pursue new content or new applications of content, and remind your child

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